Thursday, February 28, 2008

Unfinished Post: R' Yehuda Bar Ila'i (part 1)

While JoeSettler nonchalantly blathers, "Where's Jameel? Who cares...," my wife and I were on a much needed (but far too short) vacation to the Galil.

On our way home from Tzfat, we meandered through the Galil in no rush to get home. Galil roads contain dozens of landmark signs pointing to the grave sites of Tannaim (Rabbis from the Mishnaic time period) and Ammoraim (Rabbis from the Talmudic time period) and Biblical notables. Besides the historical and religious aspect (saying Tehillim at these sites can never be a "bad" thing), I though it would make interesting blog material. Little did I know where this post was going to lead me when I embarked on writing it...

Armed with my camera, we stopped at a dozen or so locations on our way home (my wife opted to say tehillim in the car, laughing at me for taking pictures at each site).

Each site was basically a cave, with a marker of some sort; either covering up the side of the cave (with more of the cave behind it), or a raised area -- a "tzurat hakever", "the form of a grave." Some were slightly spooky, with no lighting down below and some were well lit (electric wires snaked along cave ceilings), complete with benches, chairs and tables (and used candles/bottles of oil).

Sounds like the perfect opportunity to blog something interesting.

At one of the sites, that of Rabbi Yehuda bar Ila'i, (a Mishnaic-era scholar) there was a large building and courtyard, and proper steps going down into a dark cave.
[In Yavne, it happened once that Rabbi Yehuda Bar Ilai praised the Romans for building market places, bridges and bathhouses, addressing himself to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and Rabbi Yose Ben Chalafta. Rabbi Yose remained silent whereas Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai totally criticized their engineering achievements which were only made to serve the Romans' self interests: the public places to meet immodest women, the bathhouses to loll and the bridges to charge toll. When the Romans heard by mistake about this conversation, they rewarded Rabbi Yehuda for his praises by appointing him as the official government speaker; they sent Rabbi Yose to exile in the town of Tsipori and they sentenced Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai to death. ]

It was so dark, I could barely see what was there except for 2 apparent inner caves. I said some tehillim, took a few pictures hoping the camera flash would illuminate what was there so I could go recollect a bit later what was at each site, and left the cave.

Getting into the car, I looked at my camera's pictures and was rather shocked. The stone tablet inside the cave I had just been in read "In this place soap was buried that was made from Jews, May G-d Avenge their deaths, murdered by the Germans, May their names be eradicated"

Soap. from. Jews.

Now that gave me the chills.

Everyone's heard the stories about Jews being made into soap by the Nazis during the Holocaust; the lampshades, "medical experiments", gas chambers, indescribable cruel torture, the atrocities.

I was glad I had said tehillim there, though in retrospect had I known before going down to the cave, I might have said it more intently.

Pondering this a bit, it seemed like a good thing the soap had been buried there instead of being in some museum.

Now I could simply end off this posting now, and many of you would think, "ok, that was an interesting blog post -- glad to see Jameel's posting quality Eretz Yisrael posts again." (I know I would).

Instead, I decided to do a bit more research...which is why this post is still "unfinished," and therefore only "part 1."

What piqued my curiosity is twofold:

1. While many of the grave sites around the Galil are attributed to the Kabbalistically derived identification from the Ari, was the grave site of R' Yehuda Bar Ila'i "identified" by the Ari, or does it have an older history. I learned that the Ari's identification also had halachik repercussions; can a Cohen visit these newly identified burial caves?

2. Many of the caves I had visited contained relatively new plaques on them (from the 1980's) from the "Society for preservation of Graves and Holy Sites in Eretz Yisrael." This didn't give me a high level of confidence that any of these sites had any sort of reputable history behind them (while many might argue that the Ari's Kabbalistic identification is also, "politely unreliable") Therefore, who placed the stone plaque about the soap made from Jews in the cave? When did this happen? Was that also reliable? And why of all places were they buried in THIS cave near Tzfat -- and not at Har Zion or at Yad Vashem?

And then...the more I delved, the more perplexed I became.

What I considered as an absolute fact -- that Jews were made into soap by the Nazis...the same sort of fact such as Nazi death camp prisoners had blue numbers tattooed onto their arms, which I had personally seen on relatives who survived -- was less than absolute. Yad Vashem admits there is no absolute hard evidence that soap from Jewish bodies was mass produced by the Nazis...and the Holocaust deniers are having a field day with this information.

All the research I could find on the web (from Jewish sites, not the vile Holocaust deniers) pointed to one very clear conclusion: there is no absolute evidence of Jews being made into soap -- at least not on a mass production level. [btw - these links are mandatory reading] The Nizkor site and the Jewish Virtual Library wrote a detailed article which has the difficult job of going head to head with the Holocaust deniers who claim that just as there's no proof of the soap production, the rest of the Holocaust is a bunch of stories and myths blown out of proportion. The reasons for thinking that soap production from Jewish bodies actually happened is more than understandable -- the Nazi's taunted Jews in Auschwitz that they would be made into soap; with thousands being gassed and cremated daily, I doubt anyone there challenged the veracity of the threat.

However, the admission that the soap production may have been so limited left me feeling...disturbed. Not the lack of hard physical evidence...but that it's portrayed as fact (or at least what I was taught). Makes you wonder if anything else was slightly hyperbolized? No, I won't think that. The explanation from the Nizkor site is honest and academic, even though it left me with a bad feeling.

So what was buried in that cave? Perhaps some of the soap allegedly thought to be the remains of Jews? When did it get there? Why there of all places...

Google is your friend. As are students at Yeshiva University...[thanks SJ!!] My YU library alumni access is not nearly as "premium" as access given to students and faculty who gladly looked up an article for me (the link was available from Google, but the full content is only available to YU students and faculty)

The information I was looking for here, appears in this footnote:

16. Hatsofeh, Dec. 29 and 30, 1949. On this ceremony, see Pinhas Peli's correspondence, "Reshimot Yerushalmiyot," Hatsofeh, Jan. 2, 1950. For an interesting parallel between the ritual on Mount Zion and the burial of "Jewish soap" in other parts of Israel, see Zeev Vilnai, Matsevot kodesh be-Erets Yisrael Jerusalem, 1952), 427, where he mentions Safed's elders, who in 1949 buried pieces of "Jewish soap" in the burial cave of Rabbi Yehuda Bar-Ilai outside the city. For a similar description and for details of another burial ceremony that took place near Rabbi Tarfon's tomb, see Yosef Hagelili, Sefer meron (Jerusalem, 1988), 60

So what did Professor Zeev Vilnai write? [thanks AGMK]

In 1949, many Jews -- residents from Tzfat came to the cave of Rabbi Yehuda ben Ila'i, and buried soap from the fat of Jews that were made by the German Nazis; it was brought by one of the immigrants to Israel.

The grave of Rabbi Yehuda Bar Ila'i was publicized within Jewish Life during the Middle Ages. Many pilgrams visited [his grave] and mentioned it. R' Menachem HaHevroni in 1218 was the first to mention it [in his book] "By The Vineyards."

So...wrapping up part 1 of this post, I've discovered that there's not much physical evidence that Jews were made into soap, though there was a public burial ceremony at R' Yehuda Bar Ila'i's cave in 1949.

And...the burial cave of R' Yehuda Bar Ila'i predates the Ari, and is already mentioned in the Middle Ages.

I don't know about you, but if just this one 5 minute excursion turned into an interesting research post, I wonder what part 2 (and the other sites I visited) will bring...

Shabbat Shalom!


PS: Lurker adds the following...

And why of all places were they buried in THIS cave near Tzfat -- and not at Har Zion or at Yad Vashem?

A thought occurred to me: According to a bereita in TB Ketubot 17a, R. Yehuda b. Ila'i was well-known for his practice of leaving his Torah learning whenever the opportunity would arise to fulfill the mitzvot of hotza'at ha-meit and hakhnasat kalah. (preparing the dead for burial, helping a bride [also financially] prepare for her wedding). The bereita adds that it's appropriate to do this in a case where there are not enough people already attending the funeral or wedding in question:

אמרו עליו על רבי יהודה ברבי אלעאי, שהיה מבטל תלמוד תורה להוצאת המת ולהכנסת כלה; במה דברים אמורים - כשאין עמו כל צרכו, אבל יש עמו כל צרכו - אין מבטלין.

These Holocaust victims, whose corpses had been mutilated beyond recognition (assuming the soap had indeed been made from them), certainly had no relatives or loved ones attending their burial. In light of this, perhaps the residents of Tzfat deemed it appropriate to give R. Yehuda b. Ila'i the honor, even in death, of sharing in the burial of these Jews.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Updated Dates and Times for Seminars

-- Advertisement --

Nefesh b'Nefesh has just updated their schedule of upcoming local Aliyah seminars and online live Webinars for anyone curious about living in Israel.

Click here for the complete list.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

I don't even need to add comments...

From the JP...

PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday said that he does not rule out returning to the path of armed "resistance" against Israel and took pride in the fact that he had been the first to fire on Israel and that his organization had trained Hizbullah.

In an interview with the Jordanian daily al-Dustur, Abbas said that he was opposed to an armed struggle against Israel - for the time being.

"At this present juncture, I am opposed to the armed struggle because we can't succeed in it, but maybe in the future things will be different," he said.

The PA president also expressed pride both in himself and his organization, Fatah, for trailblazing the path of resistance.

"I had the honor of firing the first shot in 1965 and of being the one who taught resistance to many in the region and around the world; what it's like; when it is effective and when it isn't effective; its uses, and what serious, authentic and influential resistance is," Abbas said.

"It is common knowledge when and how resistance is detrimental and when it is well timed," he addad. "We (Fatah) had the honor of leading the resistance and we taught resistance to everyone, including Hizbullah, who trained in our military camps."

Cross-posted on JoeSettler
Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Where's Jameel?

Who cares.

Check out the new look at JoeSettler.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Sunday, February 24, 2008

HH #155- The Falling Asleep At My Computer Edition

HH #155- The Falling Asleep At My Computer Edition is now live. Click on down the road and check it out.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Free Special WebYeshiva Broadcast Today

-- Advertisement --

WebYeshiva is offering a special FREE (live) broadcast of an online shiur by Rav Brovender on the Principles of Faith.
(Today's subject: "The Divinity of the Torah").

The shiur will take place on Sunday, Feb 24 at 10pm - Israel Time (which is is 3pm for those of you in New York).

WebYeshiva is still offering its free 2 week trial, but in the meantime you can listen and participate in this free online shiur by Rabbi Brovender - instructions are available at the link on how to participate.


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Monopolizing Jerusalem

Seen here and here on Chiropractic Citizen At Large

Most of the civilized world has heard that Monopoly is constructing a Global game board, and their site ( features a voting poll for various prominent and not-so-major cities around the world.

Happily, Jerusalem is one of the contenders and currently sits in fourth place, almost bringing it to Boardwalk status.

When I first entered the site, Jerusalem was listed as "Jerusalem, Israel," and I (as well as others I know) rejoiced in the fact that Israel was acknowledged as a country, and as the sovereign nation with Jerusalem as its capitol. Then today, when I logged on to continue voting and push Jerusalem (and New York City) up the charts, lo and behold, Jerusalem is now the only listed city out of 68 without a country. Like we are the Vatican or something, a floating island blessed by G-d in a sea of legitimate countries.

[and then updated]

The removal of Israel as a country from the Monopoly site must have aroused an uproar, because one day later, none of the 68 cities on the finalist list are identified with their respective entities.
Hasbro joins the US State Department and the Vatican in refusing to accept Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Who cares what they think...we have our version of Monopoly in Hebrew, with Jerusalem (and who would have thought that the US dollar is almost considered "Monopoly money" while the Shekel keeps demolishing it week after week?

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What Really Happened In India

Hi Folks, it is Jack and I have taken the keys to the blog again. The audiopost below provides some more background on Jameel's wild and wacky India experience.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

5768 Guide for Pesach Preparations

With Pesach only about 10 weeks away, it's important to start planning now!

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Captain Joe will get you shot tonight

"Captain Joe"

Why does this name strike terror into the hearts of Palestinian parents in the West Bank?

There's a road in the West Bank called highway 55. Depending on your point of view, it's the road connecting Qalqilya to Shechem...or Kefar Sava to Eilon Moreh. In any event, it's a primary traffic artery in the Shomron.

Highway 55 used to go through Arab cities and villages...Qalqilya, Nabi Alias, Azzoun, Jinsafut, Al Funduq, Jeet, Shechem...but because those places became rather inhospitable to Jewish vehicles, bypass roads were built and the road 55 of today is radically different than it was 15 years ago.

While highway 55 doesn't go through Azzoun anymore, it still bypasses Azzoun to about 100 meters in certain places -- and that's when the trouble starts. Over the past few weeks, dozens of Jewish cars have been stoned and firebombed by Palestinian teenagers from Azzoun. In addition to smashed windshields, windows and bodywork dents -- Jewish drivers and passengers were hurt as well.

Frustrated by the IDF's inability to keep this main highway safe and secure, settlers demonstrated on the road in front of Azzoun 2 weeks ago...yet it's only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt or killed (Ofra Moses was killed by a Palestinian firebomb on road 55 about 20 years ago). The settler retaliation is bound to happen as well.

However, not everyone in the IDF was content with its less than effective response, and one day these leaflets appeared in Arabic all over Azzoun...

YNET translated this leaflet as follows:

"We demand that the residents of Azun stop hurling stones and Molotov cocktails, and if you don't stop, we [the IDF] will enter the village, start firing at the residents and close down the businesses. This is our decision, and if you don’t stop the riots you will bear the responsibility," the leaflets read. They were signed by "Captain Joe".

In the pamphlets, the residents were demanded to watch the village's children, who have a habit of throwing stones at IDF soldiers operating in the area.

What doesn't appear in the English YNET story is the reactions of the Palestinians. For that, you need the Hebrew version of YNET. (Don't worry, I'll translate it beneath the Hebrew)

יממה לאחר תליית הכרוז בכפר, אמרו כמה תושבים בעזון שהם חוששים שהדבר מעיד על כוונה אמיתית של החיילים. "מי מבטיח לנו מחר שלא יהיה ירי מטורף על תושבים, כי החיילים תמיד יוכלו לטעון שיידו עליהם אבנים", אמר פעיל מקומי בכפר. לדבריו, לאף אחד אין שליטה מלאה על הילדים, ו"גם החיילים הם לא מלאכים ולרוב זה הם שמתגרים בתושבים, ובעיקר בילדים". תושב אחר הוסיף כי מעכשיו ההורים יחששו לשלוח את ילדיהם לבית הספר: "אני חושש שהצבא באמת מתכוון ליישם את האיום. אם תופסים מישהו, שיענישו אותו, שיעצרו אותו. אבל למה לפגוע בחפים מפשע? אני חושש שהחיילים רוצים לעשות מקרה כזה, לפגוע בתושבים כדי שהילדים ילמדו לקח. הילדים הם ילדים והחיילים אמורים להיות יותר אחראים
A day after the leaflets were hung up in the village, some of the residents of Azzoun said they were worried that this represented the true intention of the [IDF] soldiers. "Who will promise us tomorrow that there won't be crazy shooting at [Azzoun's] residents, because the soldiers can always claim there were rocks thrown at them," said a local Azzoun "activist." According to him [the unnamed activist], no one has complete control over the teenagers and "the soldiers aren't angels, and most of them antagonize the [Azzoun] residents -- specifically children." Another [unnamed resident] added that from now on the parents will be scared from sending their children to school: "I am worried the army will carry out their threat. If they catch someone, then punish him and arrest him, but why punish innocents?" I'm worried that soldiers want this to happen and will hurt the residents to teach the children a lesson. Children are children, and soldiers are supposed to be more responsible."
So what do the Palestinians say? "Kids will be kids." It's only rocks and firebombs -- why are you getting all huffed up? And how dare you threaten us...we're simply peaceful parents.

Driving past Azzoun almost daily, I can personally vouch that the IDF soldiers have no intention of going into Azzoun. They don't want to go in there...don't want to deal with the rock or firebomb throwers. They don't harass Palestinian children -- they are hardly ever in Azzoun to begin with!

And yet..."Captain Joe" (now in big trouble with the IDF for his unauthorized leaflets) managed to scare some of the residents? The IDF is unable to keep the road safe, and yet "Captain Joe" has put fear into the hearts of the rock throwers? And their parents?

YNET has continued reporting on Captain Joe:

West Bank settlers have had enough of the stones hurled at their cars. Dozens of Israeli vehicles arrived Sunday morning at the entrance to the village of Azun, east of Qalqilaya, in protest of the hurling of stone and Molotov cocktails at Israeli cars traveling in the West Bank.

The organizers of the demonstration, which was authorized by the police, protested against the security forces' helplessness in their battle against the stone throwers.

The demonstrators did not enter the village, but parked their cars at the roadside and made an appearance. Military forces secured the demonstration, which ended an hour later with no unusual incidents.

The settlers told the assistant commander of the district's brigade that if the stone throwing continued, they would block the road every morning.

Two Israelis were lightly injured Saturday by stones hurled at the car they were traveling in. One of the injured, a 15-year-old boy, managed to reach him home in the settlement of Karnei Shmoron and was evacuated from there to the Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba by a Magen David Adom crew.

Another Israeli was lightly wounded on Friday after a Molotov cocktail hit his car.

Following the stone throwing Saturday, Palestinians reported that a large IDF force had raided the village of Azun and searched its houses.

According to the Palestinians, the officer who led the force into the village was none other than "Captain Joe", who had hung leaflets in the village about a week ago, threatening to fire at the residents if they continue throwing stones.

Stones and firebombs being thrown at cars traveling 55 miles an hour down a road -- is attempted murder. Teenagers who routinely attempt murder and are encouraged by their parents, religious leaders, teachers and Palestinian Authority politicians and terrorists -- despite being teenagers are AT RISK OF GETTING SHOT. Get THAT through your heads.

Kudos to Captain Joe, even though the IDF is giving him hell. I'm sick of responding to EMT calls for people injured by rocks and firebombs.

If a leaflet will scare up the Azzoun residents, then so be it.

The following is dedicated by Lurker to Captain Joe...

(to the tune of Billy Joel’s Captain Jack, of course)

Saturday night and you're still hangin' around
Tired of living in your one mosque town
you'd like to find a few rocks on the ground
for awhile...

So you run out with your keffiyah and your gasoline
And you hang out on the Fatah or the Hamas scene
Soon you're stoning Jews, just like the old routine
And you smile


But Captain Joe will get you shot tonight
And send you to Shuhada island
Captain Joe will see you rot tonight
And to your virgins, you'll be flyin'

Oh yeah,...

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד
Crossposted on (Captain) JoeSettler

Monday, February 18, 2008

How To Earn Free Waffles- HH 154 is live

4) There is a vicious rumor going around that hosts automatically gain an invitation to a waffle breakfast at Jameel's place.

Jameel? Where are my waffles? Did Ill Call Baila get hers? Please make mine with spelt flour and without eggs. I'm on a diet. Also, please hold the vanilla, or any other spirit, called for in the recipe.

Until I see my waffles, I am afraid that this rumor cannot be confirmed.
You can find the source of this quote over at Haveil Havalim #154.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Thursday, February 14, 2008

For What Inspires Us?

(Jameel returns to blogging)

As many of you are aware I was in India the past few days. The sounds, sights, and smells of the Indian Subcontinent, the multifaceted cultures and religions were more than I expected, even having worked with Indians for a few years. I studied their culture and environment to better understand them so I could effectively communicate with them for work. Hoping to get some free time to post on my blog after neglecting if for so long, I looked forward to some free time in the evenings to blog.

And yet, I wasn't expecting a "special" blog story, just a routine trip to India for work. I should have  expected the "unexpected."

No, this won't about the little quirky stories that always happen, but I'll quickly mention two.

I arrived at my office in India and the logistics floor manager came over to me to say hi, and she introduced herself.; "Hi, I'm charge of all logistics for this floor - if there's anything I can help with at all; food, logistics, taxis, questions, just feel free to ask me...Ask Shipra.

I almost burst out laughing in her face...her name is "Shipra"...maybe she has a blog in India? (I found out later that Shipra is an old Indian name not connected to the Biblical name, Shifra.)

Or here's another example, I'm sitting on a British Airways flight now on my way to London, and my kosher meal was "opened" prior to me receiving it. I'm sure there might be halachik authorities that could be lenient on this issue, but the meal was stripped of all Kosher markings whatsoever. All the wrapping of the hot meal were removed, and all signs that the meal was Kosher were removed...and I have had 4 bottles of water to drink. The cabin crew director personally apologized and ensured that the meal was opened by Bangalore, and that British Airways is well aware of the requirement not to open the meal. I thanked her for her concern, but added that although it clearly stated on my kosher meal, "TO ONLY BE OPENED BY THE PASSENGER", and it was opened "anyway" in Bangalore, perhaps we should all be concerned from an aircraft engineering perspective. She asked what I meant, and I replied, "It says clearly in English on the wing of the aircraft,  'DO NOT WALK ON THE WING'; maybe the Bangalore airport staff walked on it anyway, just as they ignored the clearly stated message on my Kosher meal?" She thought about that for a minute, apologized again and promised to relay my message on.

But the above anecdote has nothing to do with this post. Or maybe...

Let me explain. The story I wanted to write about revolves around this blog in general. (Ooops, real time interruption here) Another senior member of the flight crew just emerged from the cockpit and came over to me, and said that although there is clearly a message on the wing of the aircraft not to be walked in, what I saw was probably someone fueling the aircraft which is why they were walking on the wing. Huh? "I didn't see anyone on the wing," I replied, "it was just a comparison, a warning that there are probably hundreds of warning signs all over the plane that could be potentially ignored....just like the notice on my meal..." The woman smiled, now having understood. I told her to reassure the pilot that I had not witnessed anyone walking on the wing ... and now back to this posting.

It has bothered me alot that I've been "ignoring my blog" lately. It's not due to laziness, but lack of time. Baruch Hashem, we had a simcha in the family which occupied much of my time the past few weeks (even though I only wrote my Dvar Torah  a few hours prior to speaking). The routine of my life between home and family, work, and my extra curricular activities took priority over blogging, and for that I was painfully resigned to blog less and less.

And then, out of the blue, the unexpected happened.

One of the readers of this blog who I have been in touch with over the past year or 2, who knows Jameel's "real name," called me up in India on my Indian mobile phone. At first I was shocked. I'd been in India 48 hours, received only a handful of phone calls, and I get a phone call. I haven't ever me this person in reality, only via email, and yet, here he was calling me up on the phone...and how did he get my phone number? How odd!

My mind raced through many possibilities and then I figured it out. It was rather simple I guess -- my "out of the office" message auto-reply on my work email address (which this reader knows), sent him back an auto reply message saying that I could be reached this week on an Indian cellphone number. But why was he calling me? He's from the United States...what could be so urgent that a blog reader would call me on my India?

The answer came quickly; he was ALSO in India -- he saw my "Holy Cow" posting the other day, and thought maybe on this huge subcontinent of India, perhaps we weren't that far apart. Since nothing in my life is a coincidence, it was obvious that were were in the same neighborhood, in the same city, only minutes apart from each other. I gladly accepted his offer to meet -- throughout my travels, I've met all sorts of people through the Muqata blog, from Ezzie to Jack, and I've rarely been disappointed. That night was no exception -- this individual is clever and witty, and we both got along as if we had known each other for years. And yet, this was no ordinary individual. Where he walks, few can stand. From a life of non-observance of Judaism, he recently started putting on tefillin daily and davens. From a background of leftist ideology, this person wrote to me last year, saying I was the first "settler" he had ever met. He used to despise us, call us the root of all of Israel's evil, the blood suckers of Israeli society...settlers with their long beards and payot, weird kippot, Uzi submachine guns slung over shoulders who forced Israel to "occupy" the "territories".

No longer.

This person now counts himself among those, for whom Eretz Yisrael is an inspiration. Those who settle and build the land are no longer pariahs in his eyes, but pioneers for the Jewish people.

When writing to me before we met, he wrote:
I'd love to meet, finally to put a face to a name. You have been a very important factor in my eyes opening both politically and religiously in the last 2 years. I'd would be my honor and my pleasure.

While the purpose of my blog is to inspire people about Israel rarely do I get such actualized feedback.

And the truth is; this person inspired me. He re-opened my eyes about the potential for good in blogs. And there are so many great blogs out there that promote good, positive Jewish values. So many blogs by so many talented people; from the musings of the Rabbi without a cause, Juggling Frogs, Orthonomics, Mom in Israel, to the Shrapnel blogger overcoming her personal difficulties (she matter of factly announced that even having gone through a G-d awful terror attack, she doesn't think for a second that her aliya was a mistake.)

That's an inspiration!

Meeting the Psychotoddler and his family last summer, and showing them around Chevron was inspirational for me, when PT told me it was one of the high points of their trip.

For what inspires us?

The awakening of passion for Eretz Yisrael, dedication to the Jewish community, dedication to family, rededication to Jewish religious life...all those inspire me.

Have I rambled? Probably. Yet it's irrelevant, as I type this post, flying over Iran on my way to London, on my way home.

I'm inspired.

And my friend's parting words were; "If G-d forbid the government decided to destroy your settlement, I'm going to fly there to be with you to help on the barricades."

If I could have recorded his words, gone back in a time machine, and played them for him a few years ago, he would not believe it was him.

Readers: Go out and inspire the world.

Shabbat Shalom,


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Facing Problems in the Middle East

There are plenty of misguided Israelis who think that the elimination of terrorists is a bad thing.  They say, "the price isn't worth it" -- because they are worried about possible upcoming "revenge" terror attacks.  The fact remains, Mugniyah was planning many more attacks against Israel and Jewish targets around the world, and his elimination will make it harder for Hizbollah to carry them out.  They may still happen, but probably less successfully than they could have been.  Israel's security services may find out in advance and foil them.  Yet to bemoan the killing of terrorists is to run away from your problems -- and demonstrates you have no backbone to fight for your own liberty. 
Negotiating with terror brings more terror.  
Capitualist and sad excuse for a journalist, Larry Defrner demonstrates the same logic in his new article, "Run Away, Run Away", "Rattling the Cage: Compensation for Sderot".  Afraid of his own shadow, Derfner is afraid to use military force to advance any solution for the battered residents of Sederot.  His solution? 

"SO WHAT should the state do for these 20,000 people since it can't offer them a future any more secure than the last seven years have been? The state should do the only thing it can do - compensate them financially. Pay them damages.  

If Israel can't give these people security, doesn't it owe them a chance to find security on their own? I'm not saying the state should relocate them, or build houses for them, or "disengage" from Sderot. No one should force them to leave. I'm suggesting that the state give each family a big chunk of compensation money that they can use any way they want - to stay in Sderot and pay off their debts, or put the money away for their children's future - or, alternatively, to move out of Sderot and rent or buy a home somewhere that's safe.

Israel can afford to do this. Israel can easily afford to do this. There are about 4,000 families in Sderot, including the nearly 1,000 that have left in the last few years; for $1 billion, Israel could give each family $250,000, which would be more than enough for them to relocate if they wanted.

For Israel today, that's not a lot of money at all. We already get $3 billion from the US every year. On top of that, the 2007 budget surplus - the money the government had left over at the end of last year - was close to $2 billion."

As an outspoken supporter of the Disengagement, Derfner should know that the government is very bad at compensation.  Just go visit the Gush Katif refugees and see how they live today; trails of broken promises of homes, communities and jobs are all the State of Israel has to offer.

Is Derfner so blind as to suggest that running away from Sederot without realizing it will only encourage the Palestinians in Gaza to continue their attacks on us, till they reach Derfner's backyard?  I guess he'll be first in line at Ben Gurion airport awaiting a ticket and compensation.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael   טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Snowy Days Ahead

-- Advertisement --

I assume you all know it snowed recently in Israel.

Rumor (and the weatherman) has it that we are in for a very major snowstorm next week. How they know this, I don’t know. But that is what is being said.

I was sent this amazing picture of Herodian covered with snow.

Anyway, when it snows in Israel it gets cold (well, it gets cold anywhere it snows, doesn't it).

The point is, as I’ve mentioned in the past, some people can’t afford to buy heaters or to cover the costs of heating their homes.

So Warm the Needy steps in and gives them a helping hand.

So please, if you can, help Warm the Needy help some families stay warm this winter, before the next storm hits.

Thank you.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Peace Now and Tax Fraud

Friend Robert wrote the following. You can read the entire story on JoeSettler.

What a shock. Neither the Hebrew nor the English online editions of Haaretz make any mention of the huge scandal that has led to the closure of Sha'al Mifalim Chinuchi'im, the amuta that was established by Shalom Achshav's leadership on June 30, 1982, in order to defraud the gov't of tax money the organization should have paid as a political organization. Worse yet, the deception forced the government to reimburse Israeli donors 30% of the amount donated, as per the laws of recognized, legal non-profit organizations. Beyond the financial aspects, the illegal amuta allowed the movement to avoid prosecution, as Shalom Achshav is technically not in and of itself a legal entity.

Well, one thing is for sure. Shalom Achshav has redefined the word "hypocrisy". They constantly cry foul at any minor procedural irregularity involved in establishing Yesha communities, and yet they themselves have lived in perpetual legal sin for the past quarter of a century.

I think the next step is to bring a class action suit against the leadership of Sha'al, as our tax money was used to foot the bill for their donors getting tax refunds.

Oh, and there really ought to be some bumper stickers and posters with slogans such as "Tzviut Achshav" and "Af Amutat Sha'al Echad".

BTW, I suspect the reason they chose an amuta name that hints to an idea that goes against their politicals is that it makes it nigh impossible to search for, even via the internet, the reason being that hundreds if not thousands of amutot include the phrase "Sh'al y'dei makom ploni", probably in order to make it clear who and where the amuta is. When you go to the official Shalom Achshav website, the only hint to the affiliation is the "trumot" page, which asks that funds be directed to the "sha'al account". So much for the "transparency" the SA leadership is claiming now.


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dance of the Disengagement

This thought provoking dance by the Gush Katif Ulpana (girl's high school) has stirred up alot of emotion on the NRG website (Hebrew) where it appeared. (There's a 20 second commericial at the beginning)

Personally, I don't understand why pro-Disengagement supporters are in such a tizzy. The actual Disengagement was far more violent...and the victims are still refugees.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Sderot to Launch Homemade Rockets

(Cross-posted at JoeSettler)


I've espoused this position for a long time. Finally the residents of Israel and Sderot are shaking off their government induced aparthy, lethargy, and indifference.

First of all they are expanding their protests - and I doubt they will stop it, no matter how many of their protesters the police arrest this time.

But more importantly, they are talking about building and shooting their own rockets back at Gaza. If the High Court won't let the IDF take effective actions, and the government relies on the High Court to tie their hands to avoid taking the needed actions (one of their excuses at least), then they choose to take their defense and offense into their own hands.

Here is the Facebook URL for you to join to show support.

(Someone just needs to provide them with better instructions.)

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Peace in our Time?

Hebron always has special interest for me. One of those reasons is that members of my extended family were owners there (from time immemorial) until the 1929 massacres. They still know where their homes are, even if they are currently inaccessable and under occupation.

Ha'aretz is reporting that tribal leaders for the 2 largest Arab clans in Hebron met with Settler leaders from Hebron and Kiryat Arba (including Ketzeleh and Elyakim Haetzni) for the purpose of reconcilliation.

It was reported that the meeting was conducted in a "positive atmosphere".

But as a result, the head of one the clans, Sheikh Ja'abri, received a death threat from Fatah's military wing (that would be the one controlled by Abbas the "Moderate").

If I hear more, I'll let you know.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Haveil Havalim: Edition 153

Haveil Havalim: Edition 153 is live at Baila's place. Have a waffle and give it a read.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Thursday, February 07, 2008

REWARD: $1 Million Dollars

This is from the Jerusalem Post.

Someone is offering $1 Million dollars for solid evidence of criminality on the part of Olmert, to the point where the police or the State Prosecutor can't ignore it and Olmert is forced to step down.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Jameel- A Master Chef

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Worthy of Consideration

Of course this is cross-posted on JoeSettler.

When the Left and Right agree, something is wrong.

The complete and utter lack of political repercussions and reverberations after the release of the Winograd report should have been a warning sign.

Even now, even if the citizens are no longer 100% sure that the Prime Minister and his government didn’t act out of personal political expediencies, it is clear enough to the country that he and they certainly acted out of incompetence (or actually froze and didn’t act at all due to “indecision”, to use the terminology of the report).

Yet the wording of the report was too weak to make a difference.

For the most part the report didn’t name names (even if we all knew who it meant).

In short, the report and the committee turned into a toothless tiger.

But now we have the Tsunami.

A senior member of the committee made remarks that seem to indicate a political preference in his part of the decision-making and content of the report.

From the JP) In an interview with Ma’ariv Professor Dror made the following statements:

"If we think that the prime minister could further the peace process then that is a very worthy consideration. A peace process, if it is successful, will save so many lives that it is a weighty consideration."

Or the more damning:

"We must think about the consequences. What do you prefer, a government with Olmert and Barak, or new elections that will put Netanyahu in power?"

Astonishment and concern about the validity of the investigation and the conclusions of the report have been raised all across the political spectrum from Left to Right.

Silvan Shalom, Ruby Rivlin, Limor Livnat, Zevulun Orlev, Yossi Beilin, and Shelly Yachimovich to name a few of politicians across the political spectrum all agree that something seriously wrong has happened in the committee and the report, and are all demanding an investigation of the committee, of what influenced its decisions, and perhaps even an entirely new enquiry.

When such generally opposing voices agree on something, then further consideration is worthy consideration.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Another Potential Darwin Award for Fatah?

Coming on the heels of Arafat's Nobel Prize for Peace, and the Palestinian Authority's First Place Darwin Award win in 1999, the Palestinian Authority is poised to potentially win another Darwin award for 2008 (G-d willing).

In their rush to take credit for the Dimona terrorist bombing the other day, the Al Alksa Martyr's Brigade (part of Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority) proudly announced on their website (complete with "farewell" videos) that the 2 terrorists who died (Mussa Arafat and Lawai Lawani) were sent by the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade. Fatah reported that one terrorist blew himself up; the other was wounded by the blast yet when he tried to detonate himself in a "second wave" attack, (much to the angst of Haaretz reporter, Gidon Levy), the terrorist was "executed, like a wounded animal."

So where's the Darwin award?

WND has the scoop via the Israeli police. Hamas also released a statement that the 2 terrorists were from Hamas, and identified the two attackers as Mohammed Herbawi and Shadi Zghayer.

So far, Israeli forensic experts have determined that the dead bodies are not in fact the Fatah ones, Arafat and Lawani.

Therefore, Israel security services now know for a fact that Arafat and Lawani are on their way to commit a terror attack; we have their videotaped confessions, we know their names, what they look like...they are now priority targets for the IDF (and will hopefully be killed in the very near future by IDF forces before they carry out their attack).

WND ever called the families of both Arafat and Lawani and found out that both of them, in their 20s, left their homes and have not been heard from all week.

May they win their coveted Darwin award soon and may the Fatah PR department keep up their excellent work.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

My Jerusalem Pet Peeve

As any regular reader of JoeSettler (and shouldn’t you all be?) knows, my pet peeve against Jerusalem is the city engineer and how he has destroyed the roads in central Jerusalem.

His goal is to make life so miserable for anyone with a car, that they will never want to drive to the center of town again and actually support the local merchants.

But what does the City Engineer care? He doesn’t. He’s said so himself in an interview with the Jerusalem Post a few months back.

But it is worse than that.

As anyone driving knows, they’ve divided what was once normal main roads into two divided lanes – the public transportation lane for buses and taxis, and a second single lane for everyone.

So what happens?

The public transportation lane is usually empty, except for the occasional bus, and the taxis zipping by. And the single lane is usually jam packed and not moving.

Of course, half the time it isn’t moving is only because of… the taxis.

You see, not only do the taxis use the public transportation lane for zipping past the traffic, they also use it to cut into the front of the regular lane and block all the traffic in our single lane so they can pick up and let out their customers.

That’s right. I have been stuck sitting in that single lane (with no turnoffs anymore for private cars) for no end after taxis have the audacity to zip in front of the lane and block all our traffic while they cruise for fares or sit there for 10 minutes (no exageration) while the passenger looks for exact change and struggles to get out of the car.

Whew. Got that out of my system.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Jameel's Quest For The Perfect Waffle

Dear Reader,

One of the reasons that Jameel is so beloved by us is his never ending quest to make the perfect waffle. You may not know it, but Jameel was the inspiration for this article. Here is a small excerpt for your consumption:

"The aroma of freshly baking waffles can be downright intoxicating. As steam from the batter escapes the hot iron, your kitchen fills with a nutty, comforting smell. When the steam slows, you open the iron to reveal crisp, golden disks that are just waiting to be dressed up.

For most eaters, that means a glaze of butter and a drizzling of maple syrup that soaks into the waffle's wells. What could be better?

How about curried cream sauce? Chile-spiked salsa? Smoked salmon and cucumber? f those choices don't sound like breakfast to you, that's the point.

Waffles needn't be limited to sweet breakfast staples. They're a terrific medium for savory flavors, and in the hands of creative chefs they can be suppertime stars.

"When it comes to ideas for savory waffles, it's wide open," says Ryan Kosel, who manages cafe operations at Jace Gace, a new Southeast Portland art gallery and coffee shop that specializes in Belgian-style waffles. "We basically look at the waffle as bread. It's not so far off to take sandwich, crepe and pizza ideas and relate them to the waffle."

At Jace Gace (try this pronunciation on for size: "yah-say gah-say"), which is quirkily named after a hang-glider pilot who was a waffle enthusiast, some of the savory offerings are clearly morning-inspired, like a cornmeal waffle that's topped with perfectly poached eggs, then smothered with thick sausage-studded gravy, or the waffle interpretation of huevos rancheros, with eggs, black beans and spicy ranchero sauce.

Then there's the curry asparagus plate, evidence that waffles can be truly tricked-out entrees. A dozen pencil-thin spears of steamed asparagus are draped over a cornmeal waffle, then covered with a luscious curry-cream sauce that's studded with dried cranberries. It sounds way out there, but the flavors and textures all work in harmony. And because the sauce is thick, it mainly sits on the waffle's surface, never really soaking in, avoiding what Kosel says is the chief pitfall of savory waffles. "


"I look at savory waffles like any sandwich that I would eat on challah bread," says Stokamer, who runs the popular North Portland waffle wagon FlavourSpot, where round American-style waffles are folded around fillings, then wrapped tightly in foil, making a sort of cross between a sandwich and grab-and-go roll-up.

Like challah bread, FlavourSpot's waffles have a hint of sweetness to them..."
Rest assured that our friend Jameel will not rest until he finds the perfect recipe. It is a dirty and dangerous job, but Jameel will not let us down.

Keep on waffling Jameel and we'll keep eating.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Monday, February 04, 2008

Holy Cow! Jameel's

It's not Manilla, but I'm definitely not in Kansas (or the Muqata).

(Waffles with curry is simply disgusting).

More later,

Jameel @ The Mooqata

Terrorist Attack on Dimona

What appears to have been a double suicide bombing in a cafe in a Dimona commerical area has left 3 2 1 Israelis dead and around 10 wounded.

One suicide bomber has (temporarily) survived his explosion.

One suicide bomber failed to blow himself up before policeman Kobi Mor, who was on site, managed to kill him first.

It is presumed that the suicide bombers snuck in from Gaza via Egypt.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

The Fatal Trap

Copied from the Machon Meir site.

The Fatal Trap
by Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir

G-d promises Israel that Eretz Yisrael will be conquered little by little, as it says, "I will not drive them out in a single year lest the land become depopulated, and the wild animals become too many for you to contend with. I will drive the inhabitants out little by little" (Exodus 23:29-30). This process will continue until the Jewish People increase and fill the Land, as it says, "Until you increase and fully occupy the land" (ibid.).

And what are the borders promised by G-d? " I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the Philistine Sea, from the desert to the river" (ibid., verse 31). Until we increase and occupy the entire land G-d severely prohibits us not to forge a covenant with the peoples dwelling in the land, as it says, "Do not make a treaty with [these nations] or with their gods" (ibid., verse 32). For if we do forge a covenant with them, it will be a "fatal trap" for us (verse 33).

Ramban rendered rulings along these lines in practical terms, writing:
"We were commanded to occupy the Land which G-d gave to our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We must not abandon it to any other nation, or to desolation… In the framework of this mitzvah, G-d gave us the precise details of the Land's borders… and we are not allowed to relinquish the Land to the nations in any generation. We were commanded to come to the Land and to conquer and settle it. This command to us to conquer and settle the Land applies in all generations" (see Ramban, remarks on Rambam's Sefer HaMitzvot, Mitzvah 4).
Ramban's ruling is well-known, and it was accepted by all Halachic authorities, early and later sages (see Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer, Pit'chei Teshuva).

Today, how fortunate we are that in our generation we are privileged to fulfill the words of the Written Torah and Ramban's ruling. In other words, we can move to Eretz Yisrael, conquer it and settle it. Through us is being fulfilled, "I will drive the inhabitants out little by little."

When the Jewish State was established, the number of its Jews was 600,000, sixty myriad, like the number that left Egypt. The country's size was small. Abba Eban was right when he called Israel's old borders "the Auschwitz borders".

Today, sixty years later, we are privileged to have about 5.5 million Jews living in our country, and each year that number increases by about 200,000, both from internal growth and from continuing Aliyah, sometimes in large streams and sometimes small.

The size of our country is growing as well, and it will continue to do so, so that we will be able to absorb the millions of Jews on the way. Yet until then we mustn't forge any covenant or make any agreement with the Arabs, who are a "fatal trap" [Hebrew "mokesh", which also means "landmine"] that can explode and cause us heavy losses. As G-d commanded us, " Do not make a treaty with them… for it will be a "fatal trap" for us."

The wretched, dangerous Oslo Accords unleashed upon us the intifadas and the recent wars, and we paid a heavy price involving many victims. Likewise, the "Roadmap", whose purpose was to establish for the Arabs a terror state in the very heart of the Land, constitutes an even more fatal trap than Oslo. We must find a way to neutralize these "minefields" and to dismantle them. The way to do this is through a return to Jewishness, to Jewish roots and to our holy Torah. We must foment a cultural, spiritual and religious change in Israeli society. Every Jew should learn and become familiar with the fact that Eretz Yisrael belongs exclusively to the Jewish People. The link between the People, Land and Torah of Israel will bring light and goodness not only to the Jewish People but to the whole world. By such means, all the world's inhabitants will come to realize that Hashem, the G-d of Israel is King, and his sovereignty is over all.

Looking forward to complete salvation.

Shabbat Shalom

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Sunday, February 03, 2008

I need a vacation

-- Advertiesement --

I want to go to a hotel on the Kineret for Pesach.

How about

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Haveil Havalim #152 The Patriots Must Lose Edition

It is official, Haveil Havalim #152 The Patriots Must Lose Edition is now live. Give it a click. Go on now, it is good for you.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד

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